The quandary of what to do with odds and ends leftover from meal preparation is a familiar one. In many homes, these bits and bobs are often discarded — and according to the National Environment Agency, 607 tonnes of food waste generated in 2019 has levelled food waste up as the fifth major contributor of annual solid waste in Singapore. We get it, though: making the move towards a sustainable lifestyle can be difficult, but not impossible. Kickstart your journey towards a zero waste kitchen with our tips on how to repurpose ten common leftovers you’ve already got in your home.
For all the flak they receive, these versatile under-loved stems are in fact, just as nutritious as their well-dressed counterparts: slice them up and roast them for a delicious snack. Alternatively, turn them into Crispy Broccoli Fritters or break out the food processor and blend them for a delicious dinner of Broccoli and Cheddar soup. Feel free to substitute cauliflower in, if that’s what’s in your fridge this week.
You’ve got not one, but a bunch of overripe bananas sitting in your fridge, just going off. And going off, they are: perfect for turning into beautiful banana bread, fried in the pan to make classic Mexican fried plantains (Plátanos Fritos) or blended and left to set in the freezer as small-batch banana ice cream.
Stumped with the awkward pile of carrot tips at the end of your chopping board? Set them aside as stock vegetables for later. Kickstart your day with this spicy habanero carrot dip, make a bright carrot and ginger salad dressing (that also pairs nicely with white fish) or if you’ve got a heap of carrots on your hands — make a fluffy Mexican carrot cake (Pastel de Zanahoria).
If you found a stray chilli pepper residing in the bottom of your fridge drawer, you’re in luck. Oven-dry it to remove any remaining moisture and grind into chili powder or make a chilli-infused oil. If you’re an individual of the creative persuasion who’s got some time to spare, try your hand at this habanero jam to spice up your breakfast eggs or dinner roast.
Instead of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, save the peels to muddle in some simple syrup (or agave if you can get your hands on some) for a summery afternoon cooler. If you’re partial to sweets, turn them into these delightful candied citrus peels for snacking on or grind them up to make a cheery lemon tart. Switch it up with orange, grapefruit, limes and other citrus fruits you might have on hand.
What’s the secret behind Chico Loco’s signature bone broth? Letting leftover chicken bones simmer throughout the day in a pot full of delicious stock vegetables! With chicken stock, the possibilities are endless: classic chicken soup, stews, jambalaya, pasta and so on. Try your hand at a Mexican meatball soup (Sopa de Albóndigas) or a classic chicken soup served with warm soft tortillas that’s perfect for a rainy day (Caldo de Pollo).
Leftover fresh herbs are your best friend when it comes to making herb-infused oils or flavoured butter — an absolute lifesaver guaranteed to impress your friends at dinner. Basil, rosemary, chives, dill, oregano and thyme work a treat in either of these recipes.
Prawn heads and tails
If you can’t make heads or tails on what to do with those prawn shells piling up on your chopping board, simmer them on the stove to make a rich shellfish stock. Often overlooked and sent straight to the trash, prawn shells are in fact a rich source of glucosamine and lends intense flavour to dishes. Portion them separately for meals and store in the freezer, ready at a moment’s notice when you’re craving some Mexican shrimp soup (Caldo de Camarón) or Mexican seafood rice (Arroz Marinero).
Admittedly, there are worse things, but inhaling a reluctant lunch of limp salad greens ranks pretty high on the list. Turn them into this delicious vegan-friendly pesto or treat yourself to this hydrating green smoothie bowl or green juice for breakfast.
Who knew that watermelon rind pickles were a popular Southern treat steeped in African American history? Cut those rinds into finger-size pieces and turn them into watermelon rind pickles, or into watermelon rind gazpacho for a light lunch.